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‘I’ve never chatted to so many people’ - Meet the man riding a penny farthing along Gorleston seafront

PUBLISHED: 15:54 09 February 2020 | UPDATED: 16:03 09 February 2020

Craig Smith, 32, from Gorleston, rides a penny farthing along the town's seafront. Picture: Daniel Hickey.

Craig Smith, 32, from Gorleston, rides a penny farthing along the town's seafront. Picture: Daniel Hickey.

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In the weeks after Christmas an uncommon sight appeared on Gorleston’s seafront.

Craig Smith, 32, from Gorleston, rides a penny farthing along the town's seafront. Picture: Daniel Hickey.Craig Smith, 32, from Gorleston, rides a penny farthing along the town's seafront. Picture: Daniel Hickey.

Pictures were taken and shared on social media of what appeared to be a man riding a penny farthing, the unwieldy bicycle, now obsolete, dating from the 19th century.

Had we travelled back in time? Had the penny farthing not gone extinct?

The man riding the bike - famous for its large wheel and vertiginously-positioned seat - was local man Craig Smith.

"I'd wanted one for a long time," the 32-year-old said. "I've always been interested in bicycles of all sorts. I am interested in anything with wheels."

Craig Smith, 32, from Gorleston, rides a penny farthing along the town's seafront. Picture: Daniel Hickey.Craig Smith, 32, from Gorleston, rides a penny farthing along the town's seafront. Picture: Daniel Hickey.

He had been trying for a while to find a second-hand penny farthing but the bikes are scarce.

A company in Sussex, Trott and Sons, manufactures modern versions and when his friend spotted a second-hand model on sale Mr Smith jumped at the chance.

That was early January and he has taken the bicycle, also known as an 'ordinary', to the promenade a few times since.

It is difficult to ride and takes some time getting used to, with its high centre of gravity and handlebars trapping the rider's legs - but Mr Smith has been enjoying his jaunts along the promenade.

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"I've never chatted to so many people," he said. "There is lots of interest, I think it's something people like to see."

Mr Smith, whose day-job is roofing for Great Yarmouth Norse, has always had an interest in old bikes.

Over the years he has had a number of unicycles, made by his engineer father Stewart, 56.

"When we were kids he would use spare parts to make toys and bikes for us," he said.

"To get on a funny old bike and go on a jolly to a country pub, it's perfect."

Mr Smith said he would like to get involved in charity events and festivals, where his penny farthing could provide an attraction.

Penny farthings were popular in the late 19th century and although the trend was a short-lived they became a symbol for the Victorian era.


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